JERUSALEM — Israel and Columbia signed a free trade agreement on Monday during a visit by President Juan Manuel Santos, Israel's closest South American ally, the Israeli president's office said.
Santos met Israeli President Shimon Peres at his official Jerusalem residence, where officials from the two governments also signed agreements on aviation and technological innovation.
A statement from Peres' office said the free trade deal covered services and investment as well as goods.
"I welcome you here as an important and influential leader of Latin America," Peres told Santos.
"You are a true friend of Israel and your visit to our country will provide fresh impetus to relations and cooperation in the fields of security, science, technology and agriculture.
"Israel will be more than happy to assist Colombia and provide any knowledge that we can to help develop the Colombian economy," Peres said.
Later the Columbian leader visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial where he laid a wreath and lit a memorial flame.
He also visited Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where tradition holds that Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.
In the evening, Peres hosted a state dinner, at which he thanked Santos for his government's diplomatic support at the United Nations where it was a member of the Security Council in 2011-2012.
"In the name of the state of Israel, allow me to thank you personally for your support of our positions at the Security Council," Peres' office quoted him as saying.
On Tuesday, Santos is to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
© AFP 2013